“This is a song I love,” said Missy Burgess, more than once, as she introduced songs in her set. The sentiment was shared by many at Spirit of Rasputin’s first concert of the season: a fundraiser for the Unitarian Service Committee of Canada.
Preceding Missy in the first two sets of the evening were Kate and Hollis Morgan, and Greg Kelly and the Broken Windows Philharmonic, both well-known local folk acts.
It couldn’t have been more fitting. Though The Spirit often brings in acts from around the country, this season kicked off by celebrating our local all-stars. We heard many songs we love, including Greg Kelly’s countryesque masterpiece ‘Rainy Day in My Heart’, Kate and Hollis’ heartwarming ‘All I Can Think About’, and Missy’s bluesy, bittersweet ‘Don’t Go to Cincinnati’.
Accompanying Missy Burgess was her friend Ken Voita, who, with his heartbreak vocals and sweet mandolin complimented the veteran performer – not an easy task to accomplish. Hollis and Kate brought along Andrew Snow on double bass. His bowing on the gorgeous “There is a Color to this Night’ was nothing short of magnificent and helped the song to cast a moonlit spell over all in attendance. But no one brought more musicians than Greg Kelly; accompanied by Andrew Snow (again), Hollis Morgan on dobro, and the elegant Sarah Hill on fiddle whose perfect harmonies blended perfectly with Greg’s baritone. Just beautiful.
The Spirit Volunteers were in fine form as always. These heroes work tirelessly behind the scenes so that the entire operation appears as smooth and seamless as any professional theatre. It goes without saying that we couldn’t do it without them, but I shall say it nevertheless: We couldn’t do it without them!
It was a special treat to have the original Rasputin himself, Dean Verger in attendance. Missy Burgess, in addition to dedicating ‘Don’t go to Cincinnati’ to Sylvia (one of our hardest working volunteers), dedicated her entire set to Dean. It was a very special moment. Part of what makes folk music so special is its focus on tradition, which is why Dean’s presence meant so much to all of us, even those who never knew the original Rasputin’s Folk Cafe.
By this same token, the night’s most ‘folk’ moment belonged to Kate & Hollis, as they performed Pete Seeger’s ‘Oh Had I a Golden Thread’. Hearing his story about listening to Pete practice the song in his home seemed to complete the circle, weaving past, present and future together as one, and bringing our humble community into the greater tapestry called folk.
A night was chock full of the magic we have come to expect from the Spirit, framed by our new stage and venue at the Westboro Masonic Hall. If this is a sign of things to come, then we have a very bright future of wonderful music ahead.